In the age of instantaneous news and information, truth suffers the most it seems.
The Daily News on Monday claimed in an “exclusive” report that the United States was going through a shortage of clowns.
The New York-based publication stated that worldwide organization for jokers and jugglers, the World Clown Association, lost about a third of its members over the past decade, bringing its membership down to just 2,500 from 3,500 registrations since 2004.
The story also cited Mr. Glenn Kohlberger, the president of another association “Clowns Of America”, who supposedly told the Daily News that the number of workers at his organization also plummeted since 2006.
Although first reported by a tabloid, the news –owing to its offbeat nature – was quickly picked up by numerous mainstream media outlets such as the Daily Beast, the Independent, TIME.com, and USA Today.
However, the Daily News information wasn’t quite as accurate. In fact, it was twisted and sensationalized.
Carbonated.TV spoke with Mr. Kohlberger and according to him; there is no shortage of clowns in America.
“There is no shortage of clowns in the US or the world for that matter. [The reporter] took parts of what was said in an interview by the two presidents of clown organizations and added her own sensational headline to drive the article into cyber space,” he said.
World Clown Assn. Vice President Bob Neil also refuted the false claims.
“There is no shortage," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "If there were fewer clowns, I'd be a rich man."
There has been quite a lot of fake news circling in the cyber space recently. The hoaxes do particularly well online because analysts say spreading viral stories is a “big fat” business. However, the tragic part of this cycle isn’t the generation of the story, it’s – in fact – the promotion and endorsement of it.
Big media names such as TIME and the Independent would do well to confirm facts before getting the word out.
Let’s have a look at some of the most famous hoax stories of the year so far:
“The Rising Sun” In China:
It all started when British tabloid newspaper Mail Online (aka Daily Mail) published an article on January 17 stating natural light-starved masses in Beijing were flocking to “huge digital commercial television screens across the city to observe virtual sunrises.”
A few days later the truth emerged via Quartz.com that revealed the sunrise was actually a clip from a tourism ad for Shandong province, in China’s northeast.
Read More: The ‘Rising Sun’ In China Was A Hoax
Fake Syrian Orphan Photo:
A seemingly heart-breaking photo of an orphaned Syrian child went viral mid-January. However, it turned out to be a complete fake. The photo was actually part of an art project by Saudi Arabian photographer, Abdul Aziz Al-Otaibi. And it wasn’t even taken in Syria.
The Obama-Beyoncé Affair Rumors:
Earlier in February, a French newspaper Le Figaro made some waves by publishing a story suggesting President Obama and Beyonce Knowles-Carter were having an affair, and that President Obama and his wife Michelle were preparing to divorce.
It was ridiculous – of course – but it was widely shared online, making it one of the stupidest entertainment and/or news hoaxes of the decade.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Death Hoax:
Arnold Schwarzenegger died for the second time in four years when Global Associated News reported a few weeks ago that the actor and formerGovernor of California died in a snowboarding accident.
Although the news wasn’t picked by any mainstream media houses, it was widely shared online. In 2010, a Facebook page circulated the same false information.
NBC Hacking Sochi Hoax:
In a video package, NBC news Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and security expert Kyle Wilhoit claimed to prove how fresh computers were hacked within 24 hours of operation in Russia. It was later revealed that Engel had actually downloaded a hostile Android app on his phone and fabricated the problem.
Read More: Testicle Eating Pacu Fish Revealed As Hoax